Villa Jaffé

Since 1995 the Wissenschaftskolleg has rented three floors in the villa located at Wallotstrasse 10. Here are work rooms and apartments for the Fellows as well as seminar rooms and dayrooms.

The villa was designed by the architect Ewald Becher (who also designed the neighboring building at Wallotstrasse 12) and was erected between 1901-1903.

The villa's first owner was Edgar Jaffé (1866-1921), economics professor at Munich University and founder and co-editor with Max Weber and Werner Sombart of the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik. For a short period in 1918, Jaffé was finance minister in Kurt Eisner’s Bavarian Soviet Republic. It would appear that Jaffé and his family never themselves lived in the house that is their namesake.

In 1919 the villa was sold to Oskar Grün, owner of an ironworks in Berlin-Schöneweide. Oskar Grün resided in the villa together with his wife Franziska and their daughter Emmy and her husband, the businessman Georg Braun, and their son Herbert Braun (1906-1982). After Hitler’s seizure of power, the owners of the villa were compelled to rent rooms to guests. Owing to his political work for the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), Herbert Braun was incarcerated for half a year in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. After his release in 1939, he immigrated to Shanghai; his parents followed him there, where they died shortly afterward. Herbert Braun worked in Shanghai in the import-export business and then in 1948 settled first in Tel Aviv and then in Eilat, Israel.

Under the Nuremberg laws the villa was expropriated in 1938-1939. Hermann Göring’s Reich Hunting Association (Reichsjägerschaft) used the villa as office for the Reich Hunting Museum (Reichsjagdmuseum).

From 1945-1952 the villa housed a small button factory. Owing to a 1952 resolution of the Restitution Chamber of the Berlin Regional State Court (Wiedergutmachungskammer des Landgerichts Berlin)in 1952 the villa's rightful owner Herbert Braun returned from Israel to reclaim the house, where he lived until 1966. After Braun’s death, his widow Hilda Braun inherited the villa. From 1955 to 1995 a section of the villa was given over to a nursing home, initially run by the Privathospital Grunewald, and later by two nursing homes for the elderly.

In 1995 Hilda Braun's son Christoph Kopp, together with his family, moved into the villa’s top floor. Through a financial gift  of the Berlin Lottery, the remaining three floors were renovated for use by the Wissenschaftskolleg. The new rooms were inaugurated in an official ceremony on 15 December 1995, in which Berlin’s Senator for Science, Research and Culture was in attendance. The Wissenschaftskolleg decided to name the villa after its first owner—hence the Villa Jaffé.

The villa is above all used by Fellows who are working within the framework of the thematic focus groups. Here too is headquartered the focus group "Modernity and Islam", and since 2007 the focus group "Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe" (EUME).

To conclude, let us cite a recent architectural-historical description of the two buildings located at the respective addresses Wallotstrasse 10 and 12:
"They are distinguished by a kind of monumentality that was still, as a rule, not a salient stylistic element in those country houses and villas erected during the same time period. This impression is derived, for one, from the edifices’ vertical orientation, owing to their slightly elevated position above the ground and their extremely high plinth floors; and for another, due to the prominence of individual building elements. For example the imposing Corinthian columns on the top floor of Wallotstrasse 12—despite the missing cupolas—constitute an unusually dominant motif for buildings of this type. This also goes for the rounded gable of Wallotstrasse 10—but without the same massiveness. Its tympan is decorated by a coat-of-arms that is being held by a griffin in the plinth’s bas-relief." (Denkmaltopogrophie Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Baudenkmale in Berlin—Bezirk Wilmersdorf, Ortsteil Grunewald, published by the Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umweltschutz Berlin, second edition, Berlin 1994, p. 160 f.).

Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus